Over the last few weeks, a series of highly edited “sting” videos have been released in an attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood’s abortion services. These videos, filmed secretly by an anti-choice group, show providers having candid discussions about the collection and donation of fetal tissue. They do not, as anti-choice activists suggest, show Planned Parenthood engaging in any illegal activity.
While Maine Family Planning does not participate in tissue donation programs, we acknowledge that tissue donation is not only a legal practice, but also an ethical one. Fetal tissue can only be donated with the consent of the patient having an abortion, and we support those patients’ right to make that decision. Medical research involving donated human tissue contributes to life-saving medical advances; this research previously enjoyed bipartisan support, and we still believe in its importance.
Despite the very small number of Planned Parenthood affiliates participating in the tissue donation program and the fact that (except in rare cases) federal money is already off limits when it comes to paying for abortion services, anti-choice activists and many republican legislators are using this manufactured controversy to call for a complete elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The Senate voted on whether to move forward with defunding the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health services this past Monday, August 3rd. We applaud Maine Senator Angus King not only for opposing the bill with his vote, but also for his powerful words about the services provided by Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics:
“[These services] have to do with women’s health. They have to do with cancer screening. They have to do with contraception. They have to do with early detection. The three percent that do involve abortion have no involvement whatsoever with federal funds. This is not a case where federal funds are going to support abortion or any of the related activities. The net effect of this bill is simply to deny basic health care, including contraception, to millions of women, particularly low-income women.”
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is a valuable member of a robust family planning system throughout Maine. PPNNE provides family planning services to patients in York and Cumberland Counties, while Maine Family Planning serves patients in the rest of the state. Together, Maine Family Planning and Planned Parenthood provide essential reproductive health services to over 25,000 Mainers annually, regardless of income, insurance status, religion, or gender. We will continue to stand with Planned Parenthood as providers of high quality, professional reproductive and sexual health services.
Opponents obfuscate the issue when they try to steer the conversation toward tissue donation, tax dollars, or candid discussions of a legal, common, and exceptionally safe procedure. Despite the political rhetoric and shock tactics, at the heart of this issue is whether we’ll trust women to make decisions about their own bodies and families.